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mauryan empire ii

mauryan empire ii

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Published by: Rajendra Prasad Pandey on Mar 22, 2011
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Chandragupta, who founded the Mauryan Dynasty, had his capital at Pataliputra, near present-day Patna in Bihar. His administration was described in the Arthasastra, a treatise on governmentand economics ascribed to his chief Brahman adviser, Kautilya, who is sometimes described asthe intellectual precursor of Niccolo Machiavelli. The Mauryan state supervised and taxedcultivation, irrigation, mining, crafts, textiles, and trade. A large standing army was maintained atroyal expense, as was a well-developed espionage system. Administrative officers were assistedby large staffs; cash salaries were specified. Provinces, districts, and villages were governed by ahierarchy of offficials, mostly drawn from the local notables but under the supervision of centralgovernors and inspectors . Cities and towns also had their own officials responsible forcleanliness, fire protection, the welfare of foreigners, the registration of births and deaths, and thecollection of taxes. The systems of land revenue adopted by later centralized empires, includingthe Mughal, harked back to the Mauryan model.Military expansion was called to a halt by Asoka, grandson of Chandragupta, once he hadsubdued the powerful kingdom of Kalinga in the southeast. Thereafter, Asoka expounded a newtheory of social responsibility, or dhamma, as the basis for his empire. Dhamma owed much toBuddhism, which the emperor embraced as his personal religion and which he encouragedthrough his patronage of the monastic orders and his designation of Buddhist monks asmissionaries-cum-ambassadors to feudatories and neighboring states. Asoka's politicalphilosophy and laws were epitomized in his edicts, which were inscribed on pillars and rocksurfaces located at the nodal points and outer reaches of his empire. The edicts spelled out moralprinciples of humanitarianism in conduct, including nonviolence and the tolerance of differences,to which all people could and should subscribe. They also proclaimed the emperor's decision torenounce force and to rule his domains through compassion and dhamma.Asoka's intentions were noble; they were also realistic in a heterodox empire where fanaticismscould be fatal. But he provided no institutions capable of carrying on a centralized administration.Recruitment of officials was not placed on a meritocratic or examination system, as in China.Loyalty was focused on the emperor's person and was quickly supplanted after his death. Strainson the treasury were heavy, and currency became debased in the later Mauryan times. Within100 years of his death, Asoka's empire had dwindled back to Magadha.The political map of the subcontinent again became a mosaic of kingdoms with fluctuatingboundaries. Yet the same centuries bridging the change of millennium saw enormous growth andsyncreticism in intellectual, artistic, and economic life. Organizations of trade guilds, merchantasking houses, and caste tribunals gained privilege, autonomy, and wealth. Undoubtedly, theyprovided the social stability and institutional continuity that allowed cultural and economicblossoming to take place despite political fragmentation. Moreover, during these centuriesinteraction with other parts of the world was high and trade correspondingly lucrative. The Hindusocial system was flexible enough in practice to accommodate within itself both new immigrantsand older tribes without a change of theory.
 
 Map Showing the Mauryan Empire - 300 B.C.By the end of the third century BC, most of North India was knit together in the first great Indianempire byChandragupta Maurya. His sonBindusaraextended
 
the Mauryan empire over virtuallythe entire subcontinent, giving rise to an imperial vision that was to dominate successivecenturies of political aspirations. The greatest Mauryan emperor wasAshoka(286-231 BC)whose successful campaigns culminated in the annexation of Kalinga (modern Orissa).Overcome by the horrors of war, he was probably the first victorious ruler to renounce war on thebattlefield. Ashoka converted toBuddhism, but did not impose his faith on his subjects. Instead,he tried to convert them through edicts inscribed on rock in the local dialects, using the earliestknown post-Harappan script known as Brahmi.The Mauryan economy was driven by agriculture. The State owned huge farms and these werecultivated by slaves and farm laborers. Taxes were collected on land, trade and manufacture ofhandicrafts were the other major sources of income during this era.Following Ashoka's death in 232 B.C., the Mauryan empire started disintegrating. This was anopen invitation to invaders from Central Asia to seek their fortunes in India. This period saw therise of several smaller kingdoms which did not last very long.
Alexander The Great
 
In
327 BC Alexander of Macedonia conquered a large part of the northwest India. He enteredIndia through the Hindukush. As a great ruler, he developed good relations with the localauthorities while establishing his garrisons. While returning back due to the pressure of his warweary soldiers, he left these areas to be ruled by Greek governors. Chandragupta Maurya foughtthe Macedonians and defeated them. Gradually these states were lost out to Indian states. Butthe contact between the two cultures put a lasting influence on Indian art and architecture.
Mauryan Empire
 
 
The
dissatisfaction against foreign rulers started appearing in 320BC. The earlyuprisings were crushed by the successors of Alexander. But the uprising continuedunder a new leader named Chandragupta Maurya. After raising an army andpersuading Indians to support his sovereignty he founded Maurya Empire. He wentto war with Alexander's representatives and defeated Seleukos and added a largeterritory of the Macedonian Empire to Mauryan Empire.The successor of Chandragupta was his son Bindusara who reigned from 300BC to273BC. He was a very strong ruler and maintained a friendly relation with theHellenic west established by his father. Bindusara had many sons and when he died, Asoka, oneof his sons, took over.Asoka, the greatest emperor of all, accessed to the throne four years after his father's death andruled India for 36~37 years. Asoka suppressed a fresh revolt in Taxila and conquered Kalinga.Even though victorious, the Kalinga war was a turning point in Asoka's life. The misery andbloodshed of the war awakened his feelings of repentance and sorrow. It made him devoted tothe practice of 'Dharma' ultimately changing his State policies. He embraced Buddhism andspread the teachings of Buddha to his subjects through inscriptions on rocks and pillars, in localdialects, throughout the country. During his reign Buddhism flourished in West Asia and in hissouthern neighboring countries.The Mauryan Empire broke up after the death of Asoka in 232BC and divided among his sons.Altogether there were ten kings in the Mauryan dynasty. The disintegration of Maurya Empireinvited invaders from central Asia seeking fortunes in India.The Mauryan economy was agrarian. The state owned huge farms, farm labors and slaves forcultivation. Income for the state was from taxes levied on agriculture, land, trade and industrialproducts such as handicrafts. Industries such as arms, agricultural implements, ships for rivernavigation, weaving, handicrafts and cloth industry flourished during this period.
Gupta EmpireThe Gupta
Empire in 4
th
century AD is considered as the golden age of Indian history. TheGuptas ruled India for more than two centuries. Chandragupta I was the first in the GuptaDynasty to assume the imperial title of 'Supreme King of Kings'. He strengthened his position by amatrimonial alliance with Lichchhavis.The greatest of all Gupta kings was Samudragupta whose campaignexpanded the empire in all directions. Samudragupta was succeeded byChandragupta II who was also known as Vikramaditya (380 ~ 413AD). Hecontinued the policy of world conquest pursued by his predecessor bymilitary activity and political marriages. Kumaragupta and Skandaguptasucceeded him. Skandagupta was able to repel initial conquests by whiteHuns. But after his death the Huns spread rapidly towards the close of 5thcentury and the early 6
th
century. After the fall of Gupta Empire, north Indiabroke into smaller kingdoms and never was really united until the arrival ofMoslems.During the Gupta Era, classical art forms emerged and treatises ongrammar, mathematics, astronomy, medicine etc. were written.'Kamasutra', the great work on the art of love, was created during this period. Science andliterature registered considerable progress. The great Kalidasa (literature) and Aryabhata(astronomy) lived in this era. The famous Ajanta and Ellora caves were created during this period.Even though the rulers followed orthodox Hinduism, peaceful co-existence of religions wasrecorded by Chinese travellers like Fa Hien.
The Maurya Empire Unites India as One Political Entity
_____________________ 
By Sudheer Birodkar 
 

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